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An open letter to John Angelos: Stay calm and sell

Camden Yards
Adam Moss
Camden Yards

Dear John Angelos,

How ya doing? Seriously, how are you feeling these days?

It doesn’t stink to be you, lately, not by a longshot. And yet, you seem to be doing your best Eyesore impersonation by casting a pall on the situation, publicly and apparently privately.

In theory, it must be great to be the CEO of the Baltimore Orioles.

Your team is the toast of the baseball world, riding high atop the toughest division in the game and you are a pen stroke away from $600 million in state funds.

But while every Orioles fan is breathlessly awaiting a playoff run in October, he or she is also anxiously waiting for you to sign a new long term lease that binds the Birds to Camden Yards well into the future.

You let the first deadline to sign a five-year extension pass in February, theoretically, to continue negotiating with the Maryland Stadium Authority. The current lease expires December 31 and you can take the team anywhere you want after that. Surely you know, John, that sports fans in this town have a particular paranoia, entirely justified, when it comes to their teams coming and going. They’ve watched the Bullets and Colts bolt Baltimore for other locales, leaving the city high and dry.

It’s the hook of civic pride your father, Peter, used 30 years ago when he convened a group to buy the Orioles out of bankruptcy court from Eli Jacobs. The idea was that a group of Baltimore-based investors would do everything it could to keep their Birds here.

Perhaps it’s to keep leverage that is keeping you from signing a lease that would do just that. Of course, saying that doesn’t give you the benefit of the doubt, but then, you haven’t done or said much recently to earn that. To wit, you reportedly held up negotiations to get a more favorable partner, namely the new governor, Wes Moore, your buddy, to whose campaign you made a sizable contribution.

In January and again during spring training, you promised to open the team’s books so the public could assess the Orioles’ financial situation, the one where the team’s payroll is $70 million, 28th out of 30 Major League clubs.

That hasn’t happened, yet, you told the New York Times last week that a team should quote live within your means and within your market unquote.

You added that without favorable financial terms, the Orioles would have to raise prices dramatically to keep young stars like Adley Rutschman or Gunnar Henderson. What you’ve left out is that the Orioles took in $264 million in revenues last year, according to Statista.

Yes, it’s dramatically less than the Yankees and Red Sox, their Eastern Division rivals, but not exactly chopped liver.

Those numbers are bound to rise this year, what with higher attendance, which leads to more ticket revenue. And a new lease would bring an infusion of those state funds to renovate Camden Yards.

Let me close this letter with a few words of friendly advice: Do us all a favor. Sign the lease. And if that’s not enough to get you feeling better, take the next step: Sell the club. It will relieve stress on everyone, most of all you.

And that’s how I see it for this week. You can reach us via email with your questions and comments at Sports at Large at gmail.com. And follow me on Threads and Twitter at Sports at Large.

Until next week, for all of us here, I’m Milton Kent. Thanks for listening and enjoy the games.

Milton Kent hosted the weekly commentary Sports at Large from its creation in 2002 to its finale in July 2013. He has written about sports locally and nationally since 1988, covering the Baltimore Orioles, University of Maryland men's basketball, women's basketball and football, the Washington Wizards, the NBA, men's and women's college basketball and sports media for the Baltimore Sun and AOL Fanhouse. He has covered the World Series, the American and National League Championship Series, the NFL playoffs, the NBA Finals and 17 NCAA men's and women's Final Fours. He currently teaches journalism at Morgan State University.